Cemophora coccinea


The Scarletsnake is one of Mississippi’s few smaller, red tricolored snakes. They are found in mixed pine forests, usually with loose soils for burrowing. They have off-white or white bands bordered by black; though the predominant, eye-catching color is red. The underside is plain off-white or white in color; bands do not enter the belly (unlike the Scarlet Kingsnake). This snake may be seen crossing roads at night in suitable habitat in warmer month. Scarletsnakes are fossorial, and therefore secretive in nature and feed on small lizard eggs.

Adult male found pursuing a female, south Mississippi

Identifying Traits

  • Pointed, red snout and white unpatterned belly (bands to not cross onto underside as they do in the Scarlet Kingsnake)

Subspecies Present:

Northern Scarletsnake (Cemophora coccinea copei)


Mixed pine forest with loose soils (Behler & King, 1979)



Fossorial, often found under cover during the daytime. Active at night


Small reptile eggs such as spiny lizards’ or skinks’

Closeup view of head scale structure and patterning, south Mississippi
View of patternless venter, south Mississippi
An adult female active near a flooded pond on a summer night, south Mississippi
Bright red individual, St. Tammany Par. (LA), © CJ Hillard